Matthew 5:43-47 (NLT)
43“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.”
What, does Jesus say, sets Christians apart from those who aren’t? It’s how we regard, interact with, and care for those we don’t know and those who don’t like us.
Each of us would carry a heavy bag of groceries out to the car for our own grandmother. But what about the random old lady at the grocery store? Or, better yet, what about the nasty old lady at the grocery store, who glares at you just because you’re a teenager—everybody knows teenagers are nothing but trouble—and what are you doing wearing those ripped pants in public? How do you love your neighbor when your neighbor gives you a bad attitude like that for no reason? Jesus says we treat her like she’s our own grandmother. He says if we don’t, then we’re really no different than non-Christians.
What Jesus is asking us to do isn’t the easiest thing. But consider Romans 5:8, “But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” When you think about the sacrifice Jesus made for everybody—even his enemies, asking us to serve those who we don’t know or who don’t like us seems small in comparison.
Who are some people who wouldn’t expect you to serve them? (Maybe they don’t know you—maybe they don’t like you.) Pray for these people. How can you show these people the love of God this week?
If today’s devotion spoke to you in a particular way and you feel led to share your thoughts with others, please do so.